ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Conklin Elementary School kicked off the school year Tuesday by allowing families to go in and learn about the new and improved school within Rockford Public Schools (RPS).

It was a chance to meet some teachers and staff and get some giveaways, as well as learn about all the new things that students will be doing at RPS’ first IB Candidate school.

“Really excited to meet his teacher this year, I know he’s excited about that too,” said Amber Stephens, parent of a first-grader at Conklin. “We haven’t gotten too much into it yet, but so far everything seems really cool, organized. Everyone’s just been really, really nice.”

Stephens and many other parents showed up for “Back-to-School Night” and got the chance to meet teachers and learn about what the new “International Baccalaureate Candidate School” is all about.

“Yeah, it feels really nice to see all the support and all of the people. I know he feels good about it,” Stephens said. “He sees a lot of people that he knew from last year and some new potential friends, so it just it feels like we have a good support system.”

“We just want to start building those positive relationships with our families,” added Sarah Brenner, head of schools at IB of Conklin. “We have some that’ll be new to Conklin and a lot of staff that’s new, so we look forward to just creating that atmosphere of learning and growing together.”

The “Conklin IB School” is an opt-in school in which parents had to sign their kids up for. It offers new ways of learning and educating. Stephens’ child attended Conlin last year, so they were given first dibs at attending like all former students of the school.

“Excited about him learning Spanish and just being able to, you know, broaden his horizons, and independent learning is really important,” Stephens said. “So, you know, just kind of being able to learn at his own pace and do his own thing. I think it’s really cool.”

“There’s six themes that students learn from kindergarten through fifth grade, such as who we are sharing the planet, and they not only learn about it in their second-grade classroom, for example, but they also, when they are in their music environment or their art class, has to do with that theme as well,” Brenner added. “So, it makes learning really connected for our students, really excited.”

Conklin is the first school to transition like this, but the hope for RPS is that it will not be the last.

“The district’s goal is to further expand the program so it will roll up to middle school and high school in future years,” Brenner said. “And also, our goal is to be a model program that can be duplicated at some other elementary sites within RPS 205 as well.”

More information about the IB program can be found here.